Boundary/Border Theory and Work-Family Integration


  • Stephan Desrochers
  • Leisa Sargent

Document type: Encyclopedia Entry

Appears in: Work and Family Encyclopedia

Year: 2003


  • Culture
  • Overwork
  • Roles
  • Spillover
  • Wellbeing


  • Business and Management
  • Psychology


Researchers have long recognized that work and family are not “separate spheres”, but are interdependent domains or roles with “permeable” boundaries (Kanter, 1977; Pleck, 1977). Some have gone beyond recognizing this linkage to advocate initiatives that allow working families to integrate these domains (e.g., Bailyn, Drago, & Kochan, 2001). But others have expressed concerns over the blurring boundary between work and family that workers can experience if there is too much work-family integration in their lives, which can occur if arrangements such as working at home and using mobile technologies tend to keep work constantly accessible (Chesley, Moen, & Shore, 2001; Galinsky & Kim, 2000; Shamir, 1992). Work-family border theory (Clark, 2000) and boundary theory (Ashforth, Kreiner, & Fugate, 2000) address the integration and blurring of boundaries in work and family life. These theories contribute to the study of work-family linkages by describing the conditions under which varying degrees of work-family integration are likely to improve or diminish individual well-being. Both address how people construct, maintain, negotiate and cross boundaries or borders, the “lines of demarcation” (Clark, 2000) between work and family. Next, we examine the theories more closely.

Link:Boundary-Border_Theory encyclopedia